Swiss Bridge Jump and Float

Traditional Swiss Bridge Jump and Float

Dispatch by Delano Lavigne
Photos by Robert Brodey

After leaving the alpine pastured meadows of Schynige Platte two days ago the Outpost team and I have been on a whirlwind Swiss city adventure. Our first non-Alp visit was to the twin turquoise lake towns of Thun and Interlaken.

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Thun from above and walking along the Aare River

After a week of mountains and meadows we found ourselves in the middle of a European heat wave but managed to find refuge in the Rivera-esque town of Thun and in the surprisingly warm waters of the Aare River. Seeing dozens, if not hundreds, of locals jumping from bridges and roof tops into the river that runs through the heart of the historic town, we couldn’t help but join in on what we learned is a summer ritual. In fact the bridge jumping and water floating ritual extends beyond the summer hamlet of Thun and into the very center of the country.

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Bridge jumping in Thun

In the capital city of Bern where the Aare river horse-shoes around the beautiful and UNESCO designated old city, we joined hundreds of locals by floating down the river. “It’s a tradition in Bern to float the river,” said one of the locals we met. And again while in Zurich where the heat wave continues to spill over the country, we joined Zurich locals in jumping, swimming and staying cool.

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Bern by day, river floating and Zurich by night

I never knew water was such an important element in the life of the Swiss. I certainly imagined that mountains were a birthmark on the Swiss nation, but after three days and three cities it is clear that water is just as important to the Swiss people as the mountains are. And just as the Swiss protect their mountains they also protect their water, otherwise how else could the Swiss stay as cool as they do.

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